From the Editor: August 2014
Patrick FlanneryFeatures Business Intelligence
One of the goals of trade magazines is to act as a kind of internal conversation within a national industry. Since an industry is not one entity but rather a conglomerate of companies, individuals and other organizations, all the “bits” need to talk to each other if there is to be any hope of forming a common culture.
One of the goals of trade magazines is to act as a kind of internal conversation within a national industry. Since an industry is not one entity but rather a conglomerate of companies, individuals and other organizations, all the “bits” need to talk to each other if there is to be any hope of forming a common culture. Forming a common culture in the rental industry is probably not something you budget for each year. But without one, business sectors lack identity and are easily ignored by suppliers, governments and the public. They miss opportunities for shared learning, networking, and developing shared practices that reassure the consumer and help everyone to make money.
Industry news is the gossipy part of the conversation where fairly raw information about recent events and changes is passed around so everyone has a common understanding of what is going on. It is the soil out of which our more sophisticated opinions grow and fosters the basis for our policies and attitudes within the market. Also, people seem to like it. The news pages are some of the most avidly read in the magazine.
But there is a problem with our news. It is too dominated by items from suppliers. As much as we love our suppliers and advertisers, we all understand that they have an agenda to sell us something. Any “news” we read from them will be carefully crafted to show them in the best possible light. And critical news about the supplier that is not flattering will probably never see the light of day. Given these limitations, you are probably wondering why I run supplier press releases at all. The answer is simple: they are often all I have. My inbox fills up daily with well-written, properly formatted, ready-to-go news items from suppliers, complete with photos. When it comes to rental operators, however, I usually find out about changes in their businesses through offhand comments at association functions, months or even years after the fact. If you are not at a given function, or I don’t happen to talk to you there, chances are I’ll never know about that new location you opened or line of equipment you took on.
I think people in the rental business are often worried about being perceived as boastful. This trait, while endearingly Canadian, shouldn’t prevent you from sharing good news about your organization. If it is true, it is not bragging. I also run across a certain desire in some store owners to maintain a “low profile.” I tried to look up the section in my Business 101 textbook where it talked about the benefits of maintaining a low profile in a public-facing business, and I couldn’t find it. Maybe that’s covered in the advanced course.
All this is my problem, not yours. But I want to encourage everyone reading this to take five minutes when something noteworthy happens in your business to drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation – I can fix those. Don’t worry about getting all the information in there – I can ask follow-up questions as needed. Do send a photo. And don’t hesitate if you think your company is too small or the information might be of only local interest. We are here for all rental operators across Canada, big and small, and sometimes you would be surprised at the things that can happen from a little exposure outside your normal circle. So let’s get this conversation going.
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